Book Previews, Historical Fiction, Post WWII Era

Preview & Cover Reveal of Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner

Hello dear readers, I am so pleased to share a first look at a forthcoming historical fiction novel from bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner. Bloomsbury Girls releases on May 17, 2022, and I am so thrilled to reveal the first details of the novel and its beautiful cover with you today.

I had the honor of reading an early manuscript of Bloomsbury Girls and I instantly fell in love with the story and its colorful, humorous, and feisty female booksellers determined to forge their way in business, and in love, in post-World War Two London.

Here is a special message from author Natalie Jenner who shares with us the inspiration of her new novel, followed by the cover reveal, and the official book description from the publisher. Continue reading “Preview & Cover Reveal of Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner”

Book Previews, Jane Austen, Nonfiction

A Preview of Two New Books featuring Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s Second Sister

Have you ever read a book and felt an immediate infinity to the author—like they were your best friend and had written the book just for you? It doesn’t happen very often for me, but it did when I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time many years ago. I had to discover who Jane Austen was and what she was like. When I learned that Martha Lloyd was her best friend, I was immediately jealous. Who was this Martha, and why did my Jane consider her, “…the friend & Sister under every circumstance.”?

Two new books will illuminate  a lot. Martha Lloyd’s Household Book, is a copy of the actual book compiled and written by Martha that she used in the Austen household when she lived with them, and Jane Austen’s Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd, by Zöe Wheddon reveals what it was like to be Austen’s friend and why Martha was a truly a remarkable person worthy of Jane’s friendship. Continue reading “A Preview of Two New Books featuring Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s Second Sister”

Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, WWII Era

In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess, by Tessa Arlen—A Review

There is something about royalty that is so fascinating to me. What would it be like to be born into a world of privilege and power? How do they live? Who are their friends? What are their secrets?

The British royal family is my favorite, so I jumped at the chance to read In Royal Service to the Queen, by Tessa Arlen. Based on actual events and real people, the story is told from the perspective of governess Marion Crawford. Her charges were the royal Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose Windsor. What she experienced while working for and living with the royal family could give me an insider’s view of the dreams, disappointments, and triumphs of the famous family. Telling this story in a fictionalized account is a tremendous challenge. Daunting, really. I was curious to see if Arlen could pull it off.

Marion Crawford was a young Scottish woman when she accepted a summer job in 1931 as the governess to Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, the two young daughters of the Duke and Duchess of York. This would evolve into a permanent position in the household of the second son of King George V who would later become king when his brother Edward abdicated the throne to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. We briefly touch upon this critical time in the life of Bertie and his wife Elizabeth who never expected to be elevated to the highest position in the land. Continue reading “In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess, by Tessa Arlen—A Review”

Austenesque, Author Interviews, Book Previews, Post WWII Era

Interview & Giveaway with the Author of The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner

Cover of the paperback edition of The Jane Austen Society (2021)Happy Friday, dear readers! In anticipation of the paperback release of one of my favorite novels of 2020, I have re-read The Jane Austen Society, by Natalie Jenner. Like Austen’s novels, I have picked up on new insights into the characters and themes and see the story in a new light. I highly recommend a re-read and envy those who will be discovering the story for the first time.

The paperback edition released this week on July 6th and it is packed with exciting extras:

  • A map illustrating the town of Chawton and the homes of the characters
  • A Reader’s Guide which includes:
  • A Conversation with Natalie Jenner,
  • An Exclusive Author Essay: Prescribing Jane Austen for Difficult Times
  • Recommended Reading
  • Reading Group Questions

For those unfamiliar with the novel here is a description from the publisher and a link to our review.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Continue reading “Interview & Giveaway with the Author of The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner”

Austenesque, Book Previews, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction

A Cover Reveal & Excerpt of Jane and the Year Without a Summer: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Book 14), by Stephanie Barron

Happy Monday, dear readers! I have great news to share today. Bestselling historical mystery author Stephanie Barron has a new “Being a Jane Austen Mystery” in the queue.

Jane and the Year Without a Summer arrives on February 8, 2022, marking the fourteenth novel in the popular series. Set in Regency England, the series is based on actual events and people in Austen’s life and times. Inspired by the author’s life-long admiration of Austen and her writing, Barron’s skill at channeling her voice and the historical detail is nonpareil. Here is a description of the book, the big cover reveal, and an exclusive excerpt from the novel.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript—about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain—cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra. Continue reading “A Cover Reveal & Excerpt of Jane and the Year Without a Summer: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Book 14), by Stephanie Barron”

Austenesque, Book Previews

A Preview & Giveaway of From Highbury with Love, by Corrie Garrett

From Highbury with Love by Corrie Garrett 2021Happy Friday dear readers. The seasons are changing here. I hope to get into the garden this weekend. How about you?

Today we are delighted to preview a forthcoming novel by Corrie Garrett, From Highbury with Love. Technically it is crossover fiction, combining the characters from two of Jane Austen’s novels: Emma and Pride and Prejudice.

Talking about crossovers, this is an emerging subgenre in Austenesque fiction that is trending. While Sybil G. Brinton’s 1913 Old Friends and New Fancies was the first to incorporate this technique of blending multiple storyline characters into a new narrative, more recently Joana Starnes’ The Subsequent Proposal: The Tale of Pride and Prejudice & Persuasion (2013), and Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion, by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright (2021) have expanded the practice to much acclaim. I suspect that we shall see many more authors embracing this device in the future.

Since there are far fewer Emma sequels than Pride and Prejudice, (by the thousands, if you want a wild guess) the choice of combining the residents of Highbury with Pemberley is refreshing. Author Corrie Garrett has kindly offered us an exclusive excerpt from her new novel to give a peek inside the story and a generous giveaway chance for three digital copies of the book that releases next month. Enjoy! Continue reading “A Preview & Giveaway of From Highbury with Love, by Corrie Garrett”

Book Previews, Regency Romance

A Preview & Giveaway of Winning the Gentleman: Hearts on the Heath (Book 2), by Kristi Ann Hunter

Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann HunterHappy Spring dear readers! My daffodils are budding, and hope is in the air.

On that uplifting note, I am happy to introduce you to a new Regency romance novel whose heroine is not your typical shrinking Miss pushed into a London Season. Winning the Gentleman is a forthcoming release by the bestselling author Kristi Ann Hunter—and it will surprise and delight you.

I adore a feisty heroine who bucks the system. I have fond memories of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice with her “decided opinions” tramping across the countryside, and Sophy Stanton-Lacy in Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy, the most beloved outgoing, independent, and unconventional heroine of the genre taking action and raising eyebrows. Hunter’s female protagonist, Sophia Fitzroy, rivals her predecessors. She is a horse trainer in a traveling circus with her own ideas of what a women’s life should be when she meets Aaron Whitworth, a gentleman in need of a racehorse jockey.

This unexpected concept for a historical romance novel is not only surprising but also refreshing. The setting in the Regency-era English countryside is enchanting, and their slow-burn romance captivating.

Kristi’s publisher has kindly shared an exclusive excerpt with our readers and offered a generous giveaway chance for a print copy of the book. Please see the details at the end of this post and leave a comment to enter.

Wishing you all happy reading. Continue reading “A Preview & Giveaway of Winning the Gentleman: Hearts on the Heath (Book 2), by Kristi Ann Hunter”

Austenesque, Children's Books

A Preview & Giveaway of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, by Jasmine A. Stirling, illustrated by Vesper Stamper

Happy Friday dear readers. I am excited to share a special children’s book with you today inspired by the early life of our favorite author. A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice was written by Jasmine A. Stirling and beautifully illustrated by Vesper Stamper. This picture book introduces readers to Austen’s “origin story.” It is sure to charm, delight, inspire, and entertain young and old alike.

We have an in-depth blog for you today so grab a cup of tea and settle in. Firstly, there is a slide show of the charming illustrations, then an enlightening guest blog from the author on “Five facts about Jane Austen that will intrigue your kids,” and finally an amazing chance to win several prizes. The giveaway details are at the end of the post.

A Most Clever Girl releases on March 30, 2021, so get your pre-orders in. I already have my gift list completed for birthdays and holiday presents.

Have a great weekend.

Best, Laurel Ann

BOOK DESCRIPTION 

For fans of I Dissent and She Persisted—and Jane Austen fans of all ages—a picture book biography about the beloved and enduring writer and how she found her unique voice.

Witty and mischievous Jane Austen grew up in a house overflowing with words. As a young girl, she Continue reading “A Preview & Giveaway of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, by Jasmine A. Stirling, illustrated by Vesper Stamper”